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Christmas around the world: Diversity of traditions and customs

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Božič po svetu: Raznolikost tradicij in običajev

Christmas is one of the most popular holidays around the world, but every culture celebrates it in its own unique way. Although Christmas is fundamentally a religious holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, many of the customs and traditions associated with this holiday are intertwined with local cultures, historical influences, and regional peculiarities. From Christmas trees and presents to festive foods and songs, every country and region brings something unique to the celebration of Christmas.

The Christmas season is a time of joy, family gatherings and gift-giving. People all over the world prepare for this holiday with special customs that include decorating their homes, preparing traditional dishes, singing Christmas carols and attending church services.

Christmas in Europe

Europe is a continent where Christmas has a long and rich tradition. In many European countries, Christmas customs are intertwined with historical and religious elements that go back centuries. Each country has its own unique customs that reflect the local culture and history.

Germany

Germany is famous for its Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte), which have been popping up in towns and villages across the country since the Middle Ages. Christmas markets are full of stalls selling handmade crafts, festive decorations, traditional food and hot drinks such as Glühwein (mulled wine). Advent wreaths and calendars are an important part of German Christmas, as are traditional dishes such as Christmas cookies (Plätzchen) and stollen, a rich fruit cake.

Great Britain

In Great Britain, Christmas is associated with many unique traditions. One of the most recognizable customs is the preparation of Christmas pudding, which is traditionally prepared several weeks before Christmas and is flambéed on Christmas Day and served with a creamy topping. Christmas Eve in Britain includes a midnight visit, and the next day families gather for a big Christmas meal that includes roast turkey, roast potatoes and cranberry sauce. Gifts are usually exchanged on Christmas morning.

Italy

In Italy, the Christmas holidays begin with a rich meal on Christmas Eve, known as La Vigilia. Traditionally, the meal includes fish and seafood, as Italians abstain from meat on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, families gather and celebrate with dishes such as roast beef, pasta and a variety of desserts, among which panettone, a sweet bread with dried fruit and candied fruit, stands out. Christmas customs also include visiting nativity scenes (presepe) in churches and homes.

Christmas in North America

Christmas in North America, especially in the United States and Canada, is a blend of immigrant traditions from different parts of the world, creating a rich and diverse celebration.

United States of America

In the United States, Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year. Preparations begin after Thanksgiving, when the Christmas lights are turned on and the Christmas trees are put up. Customs include decorating homes, visiting Santas in stores, and writing letters to Santa. Christmas Eve is a time for family rituals such as reading Christmas stories and setting up the nativity scene. On Christmas morning, children open presents, followed by a hearty breakfast and later a festive meal that includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and a variety of pies.

Canada

Canada, especially the French-speaking part of Quebec, has unique Christmas traditions that are a mix of French, British and native customs. In Quebec, midnight is celebrated on Christmas Eve, followed by Réveillon, a meal that can last until the early hours of the morning and includes dishes such as tourtière (meat pie), seafood and desserts such as bûche de Noël (Christmas log). In other parts of Canada, too, Christmas is a time for family gatherings, gift-giving and festive meals.

Christmas in Asia

Although Christmas is not a traditional holiday in most Asian countries, many countries have adopted and adapted Christmas customs in their own way, mainly due to the influence of Western culture and the Christian community.

Japan

In Japan, Christmas is not a religious holiday, but it is celebrated as a time of joy and giving. Christmas in Japan is famous for Christmas chicken, which many Japanese people order from restaurants like KFC as it has become a popular tradition. Christmas Eve is often a time for romantic dinners, while Christmas Day is a time for family activities. Christmas decorations and lights are common in cities, as are Christmas cakes, which are often made from sponge and decorated with cream and berries.

Philippines

In the Philippines, where the majority of the population is Catholic, Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year. The celebration begins with the miso de gallo, a nine-day pre-Christmas Mass that begins on December 16. Christmas Eve includes a meal known as Noche Buena, which is a lavish holiday meal with dishes such as lechon (roast pig), hamon (ham) and queso de bola (cheese ball). Filipinos also put up parols, star-shaped lanterns that symbolize the Star of Bethlehem.

Christmas in Africa

Africa, with its cultural diversity, brings unique ways of celebrating Christmas, which are often a blend of local customs and Christian traditions.

South Africa

In South Africa, Christmas takes place in the summer, which means that celebrations often include picnics, swimming and other outdoor activities. Festive meals often include roast beef, vegetable side dishes and Christmas pudding. Families gather and celebrate by singing Christmas carols and attending church services. Christmas lights and decorations are common in cities where Christmas fairs and events are also held.

Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, where the Orthodox faith is dominant, Christmas, called Ganna, is celebrated on January 7. The celebration begins with an evening mass on Christmas Eve that lasts until the early hours of the morning. On Christmas Day, people wear white traditional clothes and attend church services. After Mass, families gather for a festive meal that includes dishes such as injera (fermented pancakes) and doro wat (chicken stew).

Christmas is a holiday that unites people all over the world, regardless of their cultural or religious differences. The various customs and traditions that accompany Christmas celebrations reflect the rich cultural diversity and creativity of mankind. By learning and appreciating these different ways of celebrating, we can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the importance of Christmas as a time for family, joy and sharing.

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